I am lucky to live in one of the best cities in Britain, the Fine City of Norwich; a city buzzing with history and art and culture. This summer, in support of the charity ‘Break’, the city has a trail of 50 large and artistically decorated hares dotted around, with a further 18 throughout the county of Norfolk . GoGoHares – an OCDer’s dream. I love this kind of thing, but never before has the thought of an activity filled me with such joy and despair in equal measure. Some people I know embark on an epic adventure and tick all the hares off in one gogo. I, on the other hand, am taking advantage of the hares’ lengthy stay and seek out only a handful per outing; my mobility being the main reason. This is where my blue badge really comes into its own; I can rock up very close to most of the hares without having to trek across the Himalayas to reach each one (ok, so I know Norfolk is renowned for its flatness, but when you have MS that doesn’t count for much).
The trail has been going really well so far, my children are utterly taken with the hares and it has provided us with the kind of quality time together that The Waltons would be proud of. However, things went a little awry last Sunday when we ventured into the city to find several of the central roads closed, which affected almost every disabled parking spot within the city walls. Run Norwich, a 10km race involving over 5,000 runners, was taking place and the city was heaving with crowds of spectators, runners, volunteers and merrymakers who were all jostling for space in the searing heat. Hideous.
We did manage to find a place to park, although much further out than we are used to, and this proved highly problematic for my walking, which was not playing ball that day. A bit of comedic respite occured, however, when a light breeze lifted my dress and flashed my knick-knacks to a passing couple.
After ticking off a couple of hares it became obvious that the city was pretty much as inaccessible as it could be. The roads were closed off to pedestrians too so that you needed to walk miles out of your way just to find a place to cross. We somehow found our way inside the one shop my son was desperate to go in, which unfortunately was the moment my stupid overactive bladder decided to misbehave. I never get much warning when I need to go so it is imperative that I act quickly the moment I realise. I glanced round desperately for a ‘ladies’ sign and my eyes fell on the nearest public toilets, only yards away… but, uh-uh, a RACETRACK, a wide, crowded racetrack. I couldn’t go over it, I couldn’t go under it, I had to go… through it? No, I couldn’t even go THROUGH IT!!
Quick thinking led me to the next nearest WC located just around the corner in McDonalds. I made it! I got through the door, I squeezed past the impossibly long food queue, I found the accessible toilet! But, wait a minute, it needed a KEY, and not a radar key but a stupid key that they keep behind the flippin’ counter! I stood for a moment staring at the queue, then I noticed a sign pointing to toilets located upstairs. I looked up at the stairs, ugh, I didn’t have much choice but to climb the Everest in front of me. My jelly legs were not happy but I was going to make it, I was so close, I could see the sign, I could see the door, I was going to … oh man… I couldn’t make it. Typically I had been so concerned with packing enough spare pants and knickers for my kids that I’d forgotten to pack my own. And so I had a long walk back to the car praying that there wasn’t going to be a repeat of the dress lifting incident.